Jennifer and Richard Lizzio of the Gold Coast with their two daughters Claudia, 11, (left) and Dominique, 8, spotting whales from the Byron Bay Lighthouse.
Jennifer and Richard Lizzio of the Gold Coast with their two daughters Claudia, 11, (left) and Dominique, 8, spotting whales from the Byron Bay Lighthouse. David Nielsen

Whales blow the record

WATCHING in awe as a pod of humpbacks frolicked off the coast at Byron Bay yesterday, Jennifer Lizzio dreamed whale spotting was her day job.

The Gold Coast mum, her husband Richard and their children Claudia and Dominique were four of hundreds who made their way up to the Cape Byron lighthouse to catch a glimpse of the beautiful north-bound mammals.

Increasing numbers have been spotted from the lighthouse by researchers this week, with a record 107 humpbacks sighted on Wednesday - the previous record being 102 in one day in 2006.

Ms Lizzio said excited kids and parents had exclaimed 'ooh' and 'ahh'.

"They're so majestic," Ms Lizzio said.

"They're amazing - I could watch whales every day."

And that is just what Southern Cross University whale researcher Dan Burns has been doing for the past week or so, with the annual Cape Byron Whale Research Project now well under way.

The annual survey from the Cape Byron lighthouse is conducted by the Southern Cross University Whale Research Centre as part of a series of ongoing research projects to monitor the migratory movements and behaviour of humpback whales.

Mr Burns, a PhD candidate and co-ordinator of this year's project, said the survey would run for a total of 16 days, finishing up next Sunday.

He expected about 10,500 humpbacks to migrate along our coast this year.

"This population of whales has shown strong signs of recovery in recent years and is now one of the best recovering populations of whales in the world," Mr Burns said.

"By the time the whales reach Byron Bay, the most easterly point of the mainland, the vast majority of the population passes close to the coast.

"This makes Cape Byron one of the best places in the world to see and study humpback whales."

However, Mr Burns said it was still a long way from pre-whaling numbers of 35 to 40 thousand.


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